Beautiful Destruction by Philip Charter

The glass gives way and cascades down onto the driver’s seat. One piece sticks into the backrest. His backrest. The windshield took six or seven or eight blows with the shovel, but it worked. I catch my breath, hands on knees, and when I straighten up to assess my handiwork, the car looks like it’s asking for more — a fighter with all his teeth punched out. 

There’s no alarm and nobody around to hear the crashes and bangs. At least this way I can report it vandalised and get it towed the fuck out of here. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure out how to get it gone.

I move around the car and put the windows through with the blade of the shovel. Then I get in a few licks in on the doors, too. God it feels good. Years of tension snapped in just a few minutes. The clang of metal and the tinkle of broken glass. I’m not sure if the smell of blood is coming from my own nostrils or somewhere else. My forearms tremble with the impact of each blow. I drop the shovel to the ground and I listen. What you got to say about that? The night trembles in silence. Not even the chirp of a cricket. I breathe in and out, steadying my heart. 

Destroying something feels so good I go out the next night and smash another car that wasn’t good enough. This one wasn’t his, it’s just another piece of trash that won’t be moved on. When you start looking, you see it everywhere, rotten junk that people just accept for what it is. It looks a lot better with some cuts and bruises on it, but this time above the neckline. For the next one I bring a hammer and a tire iron to work a pickup truck into shape. Emergency surgery to remove its good-for-nothing mirrors and busted tail lights, like cutting off a gimp leg.

When I get back to the trailer, the crickets sing and I sleep like a child. 

Soon, I’m taking a toolbag on my nightly trips — gloves, hammers, a brick and a crowbar. I even buy a steel bat from the sports store. I become a vigilante looking for sleeping perps to bring to justice. I free the bike frames from their chains and leave them to die in peace on the road. Rusted shopping carts get a facial reconstruction and deserted warehouses work as target practice. I take aim at the high and mighty windows that thought they’d never get hit. The sprinkle of glass tells me when I get one. Another crooked smile.

People in the neighborhood complain. ‘Damned kids,’ they say. ‘Senseless.’ I don’t agree. Things that look ugly to everyone else mean something to me. They could never be restored or loved or used again so they were destroyed and broken down beyond recognition. Now they don’t pretend, they tell the truth.

Philip Charter is a British writer who lives abroad. His work has been featured in FlashBack Fiction, Reflex Fiction, and The National Flash Fiction Day Anthology among other publications. In 2018 he released his debut short fiction collection, Foreign Voices. Find out more at